Download e-book for kindle: Crime and the Imaginary of Disaster: Post-Apocalyptic by Majid Yar (auth.)

By Majid Yar (auth.)

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Extra info for Crime and the Imaginary of Disaster: Post-Apocalyptic Fictions and the Crisis of Social Order

Example text

It is set in the small town of Chester’s Mill, Maine. Suddenly and inexplicably, the town is enveloped in a mysterious, invisible ‘dome’, a force-field that allows nothing other than air to pass its wall. The residents find themselves trapped inside, cut-off from the outside world. The authorities are unable to either understand the nature of the dome, or find a way to remove, bypass or destroy it. Under the dome, we see unfolding a familiar post-apocalyptic scenario, where the shortage of food, water and medicines incrementally leads to conflict and violence as the residents struggle for survival.

The first two seasons of the show can be read as a ‘lament for the law’, exemplified by Rick Grimes’ heroic but doomed attempts to uphold a system of rules whose societal anchors (the state, government, police, courts) have been destroyed. It is not coincidental that, in Season 2, Rick and his fellow survivors find refuge in a prison. What was once a space (like Agamben’s camp) in which occupants were confined in a ‘state of exception’, their rights and liberties suspended, is now inverted as a fragile oasis of civilisation and order, facing an outside world where the logic of the camp (the reduction of human existence to ‘bare life’) is now the norm.

If The World, the Flesh and the Devil makes effective use of the postapocalyptic to express the burgeoning hopes of the civil rights movement, later popular fictions are given to a far less benign assessment of the place of ‘race’ in the American future. In Chapter 2, we encountered a number of ‘proto-apocalyptic’ fictions that cement commonplace connections between the city, crime and disorder. In both John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 and Walter Hill’s The Warriors, the ghetto and the city serve as spaces in which violent, rampaging gangs overwhelm the rule of law.

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